Whether you're new to running or a seasoned runner, cold weather running can seem daunting at times, but we want to do all we can to ensure running can be an all-year-round activity. It's all about having the correct running gear.
With the right preparation for your safety and health, you can go the distance and make running a success during the winter.
The temperature outside will make a world of difference to what running clothes you should wear, so the first thing when planning your outdoor winter run is to give the weather forecast a 'lil check. It could be below freezing met with an arctic breeze or just a crisp, cold day with the sun shining; whatever the temperature is, you want to make sure you're kitted out accordingly.
It's true that some winter conditions may force you to cancel your planned run, but if not much bothers you, then you will want to make sure you're properly geared up so that you one - get warm, and two - stay warm.
If you're looking for some tips on what to wear and how to prepare to run your best in the cold weather, we've got it all coming up in our winter running guide.
Our Winter Running Guide
What To Wear For Cold Weather Running
Start With A Baselayer
As a starting point, you'll want a lightweight, form-fitting baselayer that regulates your body temperature when you're out running in the cold. These baselayers hug the body's natural curves and provide optimum functionality.
Your base layer can be any pair of running tights or training leggings you find comfortable to run in.
We'd opt for a base layer long-sleeve top and a pair of leggings to ensure maximum warmth, especially when those temperatures are really starting to dip outside.
Designed for performance, baselayers are made from thin and breathable fabrics, allowing them to be easily layered without overheating. When you're running in cold weather, our baselayers will ensure your body is kept dry by using sweat-wicking technology to keep moisture from accumulating on your body. Any moisture on your body can start to freeze up very quickly in the cold, which can result in a significant drop in body temperature.
Choose Insulating Layers For Winter Running
Your next layers should be dependent on what the temperature is where you're located, but the general consensus is that you want to dress as if it's 5-10 degrees warmer than it actually is outside. This gives you some wiggle room for the rise in body temperature that occurs once you start running, which will prevent overheating. Running in winter calls for layers that are breathable to accommodate the heat produced by your body. It is important that the layer on top of your base layer is not too tight but snug enough to allow for both warmth and mobility.
Essential to your winter running gear wardrobe are pieces made from sweat-wicking fabrics fit for purpose.
Choose sweat-wicking materials over cotton, which tends to retain moisture, making it difficult for you to stay dry when running during the cold months.
What can I wear over a base layer?
1/2 Zip and 1/4 Zip Tops
Hoodies and Zip Jackets
It can be a bit of a task to plan your winter running fit, especially if you're short on time in the mornings, but we've got some 'fit recommendations to protect you from the elements.
As a second layer, we're big fans of half-zip and quarter-zip pullovers, which feature a mock neck design that helps keep your neck warm whilst also covering your entire torso to keep you insulated whilst running in the cold.
The zip detail also allows for some adjustment if you do get too warm. Doubling up on long sleeve tops and leggings is a smart idea when you're facing the lowest temperatures of the winter.
You could also opt to throw on a t-shirt with heat and sweat-mapping technology over the top of your baselayer for an extra layer to keep you warm while running in the cold weather.
Wearing thin form-fitting layers when running in the cold can provide a lot more warmth to the body than wearing loose layers where heat can escape. So you could opt for a slim-fitting zip jacket over your base layer with thumb holes for some protection for your hands.
Another option is the classic training hoodie, whether it's in zip or pullover form, this makes for a great mid-layer or outer layer for when it's not too cold, especially if you've already put on a couple of warm layers. While it's important to keep your core warm, don't forget the legs! For when the temperature has dropped but it's not too cold, a pair of running shorts over your baselayer leggings will provide ample insulation for your winter runs.
Or, if this doesn't suffice, why not try a light jogger crafted from stretchy moveable fabrics over your leggings? This second layer won't restrict too much movement but will definitely give you that extra layer of warmth needed in the biting cold.
Pick The Right Winter Running Jacket
Now, we don't need to leave a disclaimer here, but running in winter can come with a series of unfortunate events. If it's not gale-force winds, it's snowing. If it's not dark yet, it's at least freezing cold. Let's face it, running in winter can be miserable.
But we can try and make it as enjoyable as possible, especially if you prepare for the harsh winter conditions by insulating and protecting yourself with the correct winter running gear, ending with a warm jacket.
What jackets should I wear for cold weather running?
We're big fans of gilets for when the temperature starts to drop, as they provide a good bit of warmth thanks to the padded nature of the design whilst still letting your arms move about freely. These are ideal for You've done the core insulation work by layering up, and now for the finale. A functional windbreaker lets you run the distance whilst remaining comfortable and protected from the elements. Lightweight outerwear pieces, such as track jackets can also provide that last layer of warmth without being too restrictive if the weather is dry.
Now, if you're someone that likes to be cozy at all times, we won't blame you for throwing on a fleece or puffer jacket to make sure you're really not letting the cold weather win (just don't layer up as much underneath).
Choose The Right Shoes
Now, if you're anything like us, the moment you get into running is the moment you commit to hours of research, running shop visits, gait analysis checks - all part of the mission to find the perfect running shoe for you. So there's no doubt you've got a good pair of running shoes, but do you have a good pair of running shoes for winter?
Since the weather is much more extreme, think snow, sleet, and icy winds, your running footwear should be designed with weatherproof features to help see you through the winter miles. It's a smart idea to choose a shoe with a waterproof outer and lugs on the sole to protect your feet from getting wet and slipping in the mud.
You'll want to make sure your feet are comfortable, especially when out in the cold, so choose a shoe with plenty of cushioning, grip, and traction to see you through all weather conditions. Make sure that you have something sturdy and stable to adapt to the change in surfaces in winter and harsher terrains, and you'll be set to run the distance this winter.
Choosing The Best Winter Running Accessories
We've all heard the claim that we lose half our body heat from our heads, and whilst that might not exactly be true, it's fair to say you can certainly notice the difference (and the breeze) in your body temperature when you leave the house in winter without your head covered.
Winter Running Accessories
Beanie Hats and Caps
Throw on a beanie hat or cap to prevent heat loss and a pair of gloves to avert windburn and cracked skin. Or how about a trendy balaclava? Your extremities will feel the cold quickest, so make sure they are covered up and protected from the arctic chills (now is not the time for ankle swingers).
We know how annoying it is to have to take your gloves off so that you can complete a task with full-hand mobility, so ensure you've set up your fitness watch, pressed start run on your running app, and queued up a playlist or podcast episode to last your whole run before you leave the house. You will avoid having your fingers enter the frostbite zone this way.
Top tip: swap your earbuds for some over-ear headphones. They act as earmuffs to keep your ears warm whilst running in the cold!
How To Layer Your Clothes For Cold Weather Running
Here are our 5 steps to layering your winter running gear and accessories for those cold weather runs.
Step 1: Start with a short or long-sleeve baselayer top for when it's colder, which you can tuck into your bottoms for extra warmth.
Step 2: Choose a full-length pair of base layer or running leggings.
Step 3: Add your second and mid-layers depending on how cold the temperature is outside; this could be a t-shirt and shorts or a gilet and pair of sweatpants.
Step 4: Check the weather and pick the right winter running jacket to protect you from the elements.
Step 5: Put on a pair of insulating socks and the correct weather-appropriate running shoes.
Step 5: Cover your hands, ears, and head with a pair of gloves, a headband, and a hat.
Staying Safe When Running In Cold Weather
Visibility Is Key
Yes, we know you've all heard it before, but health and safety measures are here to stay. Visibility is key! Whether that's clip-on lights for your winter running gear, a headband or chest LED's, just make sure you're seen!
Running at the best of times calls for reflective gear and bright colours so that drivers can see you, but especially in winter when it's pitch black outside 50% of the time.
Take a look at some of our bright picks for remaining seen whilst running in winter below.
To learn more on how you can stay safe whilst running in cold dark weather, explore our article on the top tips for staying safe when running in the dark.
Don't Forget To Warm-Up For Your Run
Between all those layers of cold weather running gear, don't forget to get a dynamic warm-up in! Dynamically moving the joints, you'll use when running is a sure way to prevent injury and get you prepared for your run. Doing this will up your temperature and loosen your muscles, making it a mighty lot easier to open the front door and face the cold.
Find out the 6 stretches every runner should be doing to avoid injury in the article linked.
Head over to our Gymshark Training App to find the perfect warm-up routine to follow before you head out on your run.
We've got a growing collection of gear designed especially for running, from baselayers to gilets, sweat-wicking technology and heat-mapping, the Speed collection will help you run further, faster.